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The (sad) morning after: Game eight fancy stats recap seyz, Don't play Colborne against one of the world's best

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The game was okay, but some of the personnel decisions were questionable.

Right, Joe?
Right, Joe?
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Sigh.

Nah man, that was melancholy. A mostly uneventful game but with a faint glimmer of hope, all dashed within just a couple of minutes. And that sucks normally, but the Flames and Lightning franchises have history, and no, I don't care that it's been 10 years, I will not "get over it". So that made it sting a little more.

Ultimately, though, it was an evenly played game, and it was nice to see barely any whistles and mostly uninterrupted hockey. But someone had to win. And last night, the bounces just didn't go the Flames' way. The game's overall corsi chart, via HockeyStats:

Game 8 corsi chart

See? Really even, back-and-forth game. The Lightning pulled away in the third because, well, they were the ones down by a goal, and needed to tie it up. And then it went back to being even in overtime. Going deeper, with NaturalStatTrick:

Flames vs Lightning - All Situations

Game 8 CF FF All Sit

  • Fenwick was WAY nicer to the Flames than corsi. This is because Calgary blocked 10 more shots than Tampa. While blocked shots mean you don't have the puck, and not having the puck is bad, it's not a bad thing that this team is wiling to block so many. For a rebuilding team? Not in the slightest. Kris Russell, TJ Brodie, and Mark Giordano are actually among the league's top shot blockers right now, albeit in more games played.
  • Despair not for the third period, because the Flames scored early, and the Lightning scored late. And that is how score effects work!
Flames vs Lightning - Even Strength

Game 8 CF FF ES

  • This game had all of two powerplays: one in the second and one in the third, both for the Flames. So. That explains the second period fall in percentages, which is actually really rather not good. The Flames scoring on 20% of their powerplays so far is pretty good, but man. Even strength.
Even Strength Corsi Data

Game 8 ES Flames

  • The Russell - Dennis Wideman pairing did not start a single shift in the offensive zone at even strength. Not one. They had the worst possession stats out of all the defencemen, but considering the situations they had, didn't play badly at all. Wideman in particular looks better, although the goal scoring is certainly helping.
  • Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau were also buried. Monahan actually came out of it really, really well, and nearly set up an insurance goal. The only Flames he played more than were the fourth line guys, so he didn't see a ton of ice; still, those stats are pretty dramatic, and he wasn't playing super soft competition the entire time, either.
  • Gaudreau: two games ago, a healthy scratch, and now, Hartley's trusting him to start entirely within his own end. That's pretty impressive. He didn't respond quite as well as Monahan, though.
  • On the flip side, Deryk Engelland was relatively sheltered, considering the zone starts. Considering he missed a handful of games, it makes sense; he had a decent output, but there were others who started in far less favourable circumstances that did just plain better.
  • His defence partner, Ladislav Smid, who wasn't quite as sheltered but still had a pretty big break compared to everyone else, isn't one of them. Still, those two seemed okay - about as good as they were gonna be, anyway - together, so if that's the Flames' third pairing, then that's the Flames' third pairing.
  • Weird: Mason Raymond's most frequent linemates were Gaudreau and Monahan, but starting 40% of his shifts in the offensive zone while they started none is just, well, bizarre. And makes Monahan's numbers all the more impressive. Which is good, he needs it - he's been sick to start the season and while he's better now, he does need to start getting on the scoreboard.
  • Fourth line guys: Brandon Bollig, Matt Stajan, and Lance Bouma. Bollig had the best zone starts of the three, but finally, finally finally, did not have terrible possession statistics despite being relatively sheltered, and got to play the most out of the three for it. Stajan's performance wasn't as strong. Bouma had far worse starts and yet seemed to really make something of them, especially in the fenwick department. He remains my ideal fourth liner.
  • Mikael Backlund had similar zone starts to Stajan, but while Stajan was facing Brian Boyle, Backlund had to deal with Tyler Johnson. One of these is waaaay better than the other, hence Backlund's drop in possession.
  • But it was Joe Colborne who drew the big draw. He was responsible for Steven Stamkos most of the night. He could not handle it. Backlund is the better defensive centre. I'm sure if you swapped the two Colborne's numbers would be less godawful, while Backlund's probably wouldn't suffer nearly as much.
  • Backlund's linemates, Jiri Hudler and Paul Byron, had pretty poor zone starts. Hudler did well, but Byron? Byron?? Paul Byron keeps doing this. He may very well be the most underrated Flame at the moment. Bury him in the neutral and defensive zones, but somehow, he keeps coming out on top possession wise. It's so weird. It's really good, but it's just... weird. This isn't the first time this season, and it probably won't be the last.
  • As Colborne's linemates, neither Curtis Glencross nor Josh Jooris did well, either, although they were slightly better than him. It does beg the question, though: why the hell was Josh Jooris, in his second NHL game, facing off against Steven Stamkos?!
  • Okay. Gio and Brodie. Toughest minutes on the team, the most for Brodie, meh zone starts, nearly broke even possession-wise. Ho hum. Considering how the other defencemen fare, the Flames would be so bad without them.
Player Spotlight - Joe Colborne

I am not a fan of Hartley's decision to match Colborne against Stamkos. Colborne is in his sophomore season after an okay rookie campaign, and we don't even know if he's going to stay at centre. Backlund is a pretty established possession demon and shutdown guy. Also, he didn't have a rookie on his wing. The two should've had their matchups swapped. Just. What an odd decision. So let's look into him a little further.

Game 8 Colborne WOWY

  • What the fuck was Colborne doing playing against Stamkos?
  • Pretty much the only time he got anything going was because he was spending a lot of minutes with the Flames' top defence pairing, who obviously helped (they're off the ice? Then Colborne isn't getting a shot attempt through).
  • That and his linemates, but considering how much time he spent with Glencross and Jooris, you'd hope they'd be able to throw at least one puck in the net's general direction.
  • Joe Colborne shared the ice for 9:30 minutes at even strength with Steven Stamkos. That means for about 11 minutes, Stamkos was facing off against other Flames' centres. When Stamkos was on the ice with Colborne: 76.92% CF. When he had to play someone else, 46.67%. I just... don't understand why you'd keep that matchup going. Stamkos was held off the scoreboard, but he didn't exactly have a difficult time driving possession.

Mikael Backlund is both the team's first line and shutdown centre. I can guarantee you his stats wouldn't have looked as ugly had he been the one to take the harsh matchup. Instead, he only played 1:58 against one of the top players in the world, leaving Colborne to get eaten alive, and it was just a bizarre decision that hopefully won't continue.